WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – Patrick VanHall and Kiera Fitzpatrick have been leading a group of Pace Law School students in collecting and delivering warm clothing, cleaning supplies and cash to neighborhoods in Brooklyn devastated by Hurricane Sandy.
The students banded together and began lunch-time collection drives at the White Plains campus in November. They, along with about two dozen of their classmates filled six cars with more than 20 moving boxes of supplies and dozens of large garbage bags of clothing, jackets and blankets, and delivered them to several collection points. They continue to seek out areas in need on Staten Island to drop off remaining donations.
Fitzpatrick, 25, lives in Brooklyn’s Marine Park neighborhood, which is near areas like the Rockaways – a seven-mile stretch of beachfront below Brooklyn, that were hit hardest. The law student lost power during the storm and, thus, communication with family and friends.
“It wasn't until I spoke to neighbors that I found out the burning smell was from the Rockaways and at least 80 houses burnt down,” Fitzpatrick said. “Many of my friends' houses were flooded, and some completely destroyed.”
When Fitzpatrick returned to school that Wednesday, she reached out to VanHall, who is also on the Pace e-board for the Gaelic Law Society.
“We were happy that we were able to help in some way if we couldn't physically be where help was needed,” Fitzpatrick said.
About six or seven students delivered the collected items to Our Lady of Solace Church in Coney Island and Gerrtisen Beach Court Club, both of which were being used as shelters for victims of the hurricane. Students also dropped clothes off at MCU Park. The students also raised $1,000, which they donated to the Breezy Point Disaster Relief Fund.
“Volunteers swarmed our cars and people were instantly lining up at the distribution tables to accept our donations,” VanHall said. “It was an eye-opening experience for our drivers and it just shows how much help is still needed.”
When Fitzpatrick delivered supplies to the Gerrtisen Beach Court Club, she said she was surprised to see the swarms of people lined up for food and supplies.
“I got in my car and cried the entire way home,” she said. “I was happy that we were able to help in some way, but still sad to see people living like this.”
Pace Law School Dean for Students Angie D'Agostino congratulated the students for their efforts.
“At its very core, the law is a helping profession,” she said.